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Thaksin-linked party is talk of Thailand on premier rumour
[BANGKOK] A party linked to Thailand's exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is rapidly becoming the talk of the country amid rumours it will announce a shock prime ministerial candidate for March's election.
The Thai Raksa Chart Party was Thailand's top trending hashtag on Twitter on Thursday over speculation about who might be named, with more than 100,000 posts. A local media report said the candidate won't be a member of the Shinawatra family.
A party spokesperson declined to comment on the speculation beyond saying that it will submit its choice Friday, the Election Commission's deadline for candidate registration.
Thai Raksa Chart is viewed as an offshoot of the main opposition Pheu Thai Party -- which is also linked to Thaksin -- and was established about a decade ago before re-branding and re-launching late last year.
The March 24 general election will be the first since the military seized power in 2014, an intervention that unseated a Pheu Thai-led administration headed by Yingluck Shinawatra, Thaksin's sister.
Yingluck fled Thailand in 2017 before being sentenced in absentia to five years in jail in a negligence case she said was politically motivated. Thaksin or his allies have won every election dating back to 2001, only to be unseated by the courts or the military.
Political risk is back in the spotlight in Thailand, a country with a history of elections followed by protests and coups.
Pro-democracy parties and others that back a continuing role for the military in government are dueling for support, as one of the longest periods under a junta in Thailand's modern history comes to a close.
Former army chief Prayuth Chan-Ocha, who led the coup and became prime minister of the military administration, has yet to make his electoral intentions clear.
A recently created party seen as supportive of the military government picked Prayuth as one of its prime ministerial candidates, but he has yet to accept the nomination.
The general election will be held under a military-backed charter. Critics say the constitution may give appointed soldiers and bureaucrats in the planned Senate the power to stifle elected politicians in the lower house.